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Brown: North Sea can have a bright future

Published: 3 Jun 2016 12:00

Support package has improved resilience and supported workers

Cabinet Secretary for the Economy Keith Brown has restated the Scottish Government's commitment to the oil and gas industry on his first visit to Aberdeen since taking on the newly-created economy portfolio.

Accompanied by Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse, Mr Brown met with key oil and gas companies Nexen and EnQuest, trade unions, industry body Oil and Gas UK and regulator the Oil and Gas Authority.

He updated stakeholders on progress on the £24.5 million support package announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this year, and listened to how those in the industry are adapting to the sustained period of low prices.

Updates included:

  • Training programmes commissioned by the Transition Training Fund to date have created around 340 employment opportunities across Scotland.
  • Around 650 individuals have registered with SDS for transition training support and almost 100 workers have already received confirmation of training funding.
  • Scottish Enterprise continues to prioritise funding to reduce research and development risks and deliver specialist expertise to oil and gas firms as they seek to take forward new projects.

Mr Brown discussed how the Scottish Government's "clear and unrelenting focus on creating a competitive and supportive business environment" could help the sector and heard how the industry continues to adapt to the sustained period of low prices.

Mr Brown said:

"As I said during the first economy debate of the new Parliament earlier this week, visiting the North East to meet key figures in the oil and gas industry has been a huge priority for me and I am pleased to be in Aberdeen today for a series of meetings with some the of the industry's most senior stakeholders.

"I recognise the importance of the oil and gas industry to the Scottish economy. My aim is to continue the close engagement he developed and to work with the industry, Oil & Gas UK, the Oil & Gas Authority, DECC and the unions to overcome the current challenges facing the sector and secure its long term future.

"While this is a difficult time for the industry and the workforce, important steps are underway to adapt to the current low oil price environment. Efficiency initiatives are starting to produce results – for example a considerable effort from industry to improve production efficiency has led to an increase in annual production for the first time in fifteen years. I aim to listen and, where I can, to act in the best interest of this important industry – however, the UK Government retains control of the key taxation levers affecting the sector, and must take the action needed to protect jobs.

"I am pleased to note the first results of the support we have announced so far. The Transition Training Fund is already helping hundreds of workers who have faced redundancy to use their skills in the best possible way, only beginning in its vital work in supporting those affected by the fall in oil prices.

"The Scottish Government strongly believes that the North Sea oil and gas sector can have a bright future for years to come. This, however, will require a concerted effort by all stakeholders and today's visit will help me to play as strong a role as possible in that process."